You no longer need to be “green with envy” in terms of environmental sustainability. Take note of these green clubs and transform your envy into action.
The Longfellow Clubs
For Laury Hammel, the president, CEO and founder of The Longfellow Clubs in Boston, Mass., being environmentally sustainable is not just a great business move for his business, it’s a necessity. “Being environmentally sustainable isn’t just a nice thing to do,” Hammel said. “It’s going to save our planet.”
Hammel has taken this belief and made it evident in almost every aspect of The Longfellow Clubs’ two locations in the Boston area. In fact, sustainability is one of the clubs’ core values. In addition to recycling, The Longfellow Clubs boast solar hot water and salt-purification systems, water-saving drinking fountains and shower heads, energy-efficient lighting and more.
Most notably, The Longfellow Clubs installed a co-generation unit that uses the heat generated from burning natural gas and electricity to heat its pools and showers.
Although saving the planet is an important reason for sustainability in The Longfellow Clubs, business perks are apparent as well. According to Hammel, being green can be budget-friendly to a club operator’s wallet. “We’ve saved so much money by doing all of these things,” he said.
For example, working with ThinkLite LLC, Hammel developed the HammelLite, a bulb which uses fewer watts and lasts much longer than traditional fluorescent or metal halide bulbs. Placed in The Longfellow Clubs’ tennis courts, the bulbs produce a 35 to 40 percent difference in electricity savings, according to Hammel. In addition, installing showerheads that limit water usage to two gallons or less per minute has saved The Longfellow Clubs thousands of gallons of water per year.
According to Hammel, both staff and members are proud of The Longfellow Clubs’ sustainability efforts. “People love the fact that we’re environmentally friendly,” said Hammel. “We’re trying to set the bar high for other clubs.”
The Green Microgym
According to Heidi Medema, the general manager of The Green Microgym in Portland, Ore., Portland is “a green city full of green people, who look for businesses that share a similar level of consciousness in the face of growing environmental issues.”
Considering this, Portland was a natural fit for The Green Microgym — its two locations in the city are eco-friendly from the ground up, featuring exterior solar panels, recycled rubber flooring and stationary bikes and ellipticals that generate electricity.
“The Green Microgym is unique because of its level of commitment to being green,” said Medema. “Our goal is to create an energy-saving culture that our employees and members embrace with enthusiasm.”
That’s why The Green Microgym has placed energy savings and responsibility directly into its members’ hands. “It is a highly member-controlled environment, meaning each person has the ability to control their carbon footprint while working out,” explained Medema. For example, if members notice lights are on in a room that is unoccupied, they’re encouraged to turn them off. Or, they can generate electricity by working out on an energy-producing elliptical.
Adam Boesel, the founder and owner of The Green Microgym, knows that eco-friendliness is important to his members. Therefore, he and his staff set good examples for the people that frequent the gym.
“Adam Boesel, the gym’s owner, and all of our trainers live in a way that is congruent with the gym’s efforts to be green,” said Medema. “People see this and know that we really care. So many people come into the Green Microgym asking why all gyms aren’t like this. I wonder the same thing.”
As a result of its impressive sustainability efforts, The Green Microgym has generated the community’s respect, attracting like-minded members and national media attention. “A lot of our members join specifically because they appreciate our ‘greenness,’” said Medema. “They see the value in an environmentally-conscious gym.”
Additionally, that value translates into monetary savings as well. “With our energy-saving culture, we save more than $6,000 annually in utility costs for each of our 2,000 to 3,000-square-foot facilities ($12,000 total yearly savings),” said Boesel.
In January of 1969, Santa Barbara, Calif., experienced the largest-ever oil spill to occur in the waters off the Californian coast. Since this environmental tragedy, Santa Barbara has become a center for green efforts, even serving as the host city of the first Earth Day in 1970.
With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Santa Barbara is home to one of the greenest clubs in the U.S. At AC4 Fitness, like other gyms with a sustainability focus, environmental responsibility is a core value that has been present since Tony Calhoun opened the club in 2012.
“We’re here to take care of our bodies, so it seemed like a natural next step to take care of the environment as well,” said Calhoun. This focus on sustainability at AC4 Fitness is characterized by energy-generating cardio equipment, no-electricity treadmills produced by Woodway, 100 percent post-consumer recycled lockers and a paperless environment, to name a few of the club’s green initiatives.
According to Calhoun, one of his biggest concerns is plastic consumption. “We’re trying to reduce the amount of plastic circulating throughout our world, which is substantial,” he said. As a result, AC4 Fitness doesn’t sell plastic water bottles or sports drinks within the facility, encouraging members to recycle and make use of the club’s filtered water fountains instead.
Additionally, paper reduction has been an area of focus. “We’re pretty concerned about paper production,” Calhoun said. “Look around at the amount of paper you’re producing every day. In a 24-hour period, a club can go through a tremendous amount of paper.” As a result, membership agreements are e-mailed to new members in PDF form, instead of being printed.
Currently, a second AC4 Fitness location in Santa Barbara is in the works, which will boast a similar sustainability focus. “Philosophically, this is what we’re about,” said Calhoun. “It’s a way to differentiate ourselves in the marketplace and reflect our values.”
Even if environmental sustainability isn’t the core value of your club, there are small things you can do to incorporate green efforts into your facility. When re-modeling, look into green or re-purposed materials. Consider purchasing environmentally-friendly products. Consult with your club management software provider on how to go paperless. Recycle. After all, even small efforts can make a difference when it comes to the future of our planet. Use these initiatives as a way to save money, and differentiate your club by going green.
What You Can Do
Heidi Medema: “A good place to start is electricity. How many gyms have you walked into where all the lights, all the TVs and all the treadmills are turned on, even though there are only a handful of people present, or worse yet, no one? Keeping treadmills and TVs off when not in use can make a big difference.”
Tony Calhoun: “Recycling is a no-brainer. Also, take a look at the chemicals you’re using when cleaning. There are plenty of green products clubs can use that don’t sacrifice cleanliness. We use SimpleGreen®, which boasts a great line of green products.”
Laury Hammel: “The simplest thing you can do is to change your lighting to energy-efficient lighting. Some electric companies will even give you a rebate for installing better lighting.”
By Rachel Zabonick